O Canada

Before you begin, you must read Gabriel’s The First Ten Things You Need To Know Aboot [tag]Canada[/tag]. She He will address most of your curiosities in a matter-of-fact manner.
Update: Sorry Gabriel! I’ll remember it now.

Now I have been in this country for 8 months and 8 days (wow! how precise!) and it is interesting to note how my perceptions change (and ARE changing) as I live here. Agreed that I spent most of these 8.3 months confined to the business school in what they call the ‘York University’ (YU) campus, I am not as insightful about this place as some other newcomer would have been.

You might have read my initial observations about this place. While all of them are still valid, I have discovered something more.

For instance:

  • ALL Canadians are confused about their history period. Once I was talking to a history major about this, and he had an easy answer – ‘I studied American (read US) history at college.
  • Although the country is independent, they celebrate Queen Victoria day with vigor. Even the oath for new immigrants is a statement of allegiance to her majesty, the Queen of England (or is it Britan?)
  • They have this funny obsession about perceiving themselves to be different from the US, but they really dont’t do the job well! For instance, cars are driven on right side of the road, but distances are measured in kilometers. Color is spelled as colour but the accent is very American. Call them escalators, not lifts

The free and open environment in ‘our’ Canada is like a mouthwatering delicious piece of stake that the orthodox setup across the border MUST finish. Hmm… why don’t the two countries merge? By ‘merge’ I don’t mean a peaceful union, but a hostile takeover by the [tag]US[/tag] Republicans. They will then be able to cast their religious, conservative and/or homophobic ideals on a wider territory. Yummy. As a side effect, more people will be under their rule, so the amount of moral sin per person attributable to the actions of the Republicans will be lower. (sometimes the engineer inside me strives to quantify everything… you know what I mean? (that is another over used phrase))

Now I have neither been to the US nor have I spent a long time in Canada, but I can already distinguish an American from a Canadian. Do you wanna know the difference? I think if you can identify people of Pune from that of Mumbai, you can easily spot an American among the Canadians ;)

I don’t expect any nasty comments from the Bush-land saying ‘who the hell is this smart guy’, simply because nobody reads this blog!

to be continued…/

10 thoughts on “O Canada

  1. G’day Priyank,

    Sorry it’s been a few days between visits. I have enjoyed my visits to Canada – and I reckon Canadians are really Aussies with different accents!

    Cheers

    David

  2. Good morning Dude, I hope everything is good in the great city of Toronto. I tried to post this last night, but WordPress was having their weekly “clean out the servers” night. Just a quick note… the feminine of my name, at least in French, is “Gabrielle”, the masculine (that’s me) is Gabriel. I get it a lot, no worries. I just met someone not too long ago who spells her name “Gabrielae”.

    Not “all” Canadians are confused about our history, just the ones who stopped paying attention after their third year of high school. Our schools teach American history more than any other school system on the planet — including, maybe, some American jurisdictions — because our history is intertwined with American history, right to the point where events in Canada created America, and events in America helped create Canada. So if we want to understand where we are, and who we are, then we have to understand what made us… and that means America as a whole, America’s Revolution, America’s relationship with France and Aboriginals, the American Civil War and so on.

    During the Revolution, American’s loyal to The Queen came to Canada. After the Revolution the newly formed American government saw Canada — a still poor British colony of about 300,000 people — as an easy target (America’s population was around 8 million) and America launched an invasion of Canada… and lost horribly. This invasion was a direct cause of Canada — then a single, largely unfocussed colony, becoming a federation.

    Before the American Civil War, African-Americans escaped slavery by coming to Canada. Until the past thirty years almost all of Canada’s black population were descended from them. During the slave years African-American’s used “Heaven” as code for “Canada”.

    Canada is America’s largest trading partner. About 30% of American goods and services are bought by Canadians, and Americans buy 60% of the stuff we make. We even supply America with the overwhelming majority of their oil, almost 60% of America’s daily intake comes from Canada.

    There has been talk, during my lifetime, of “hey, we’re all pretty much the same, why not merge?” But there are 33 million Canadians who, compared to Americans, are all Socialists. The last thing the Americans want is 33 million Northern-Cubans, with 8 million of them speaking nothing but French. And 9 million of us vote.

    Things like “the Queen” and “Victoria Day” are traditions here, and not necessarily celebrated for the same reasons now as they were ‘back then’.

    There’s an author, Pierre Berton, who has written extensively about Canada. In fact his books are considered the unofficial biography of Canada. If you want to learn about Canada’s history he’d be a fantastic place to start.

    I’ll just end this with an excerpt from one of his books that pretty much sums up the difference between Canadians and Americans, it’s from pages 313-314 of “The Invasion Of Canada: 1812-1813″ (I wrote a post on it: http://culturalsnafu.wordpress.com/2007/03/08/greatest-hits-canadian-books-the-invasion-of-canada-1812/)

    “Thus the key words in Upper Canada were “loyalty” and “patriotism” — loyalty to the British way of life as opposed to American “radical” democracy and republicanism. [British General Isaac] Brock — the man who wanted to establish martial law and abandon habeas corpus — represented these virtues. Canonized by the same caste that organized the Loyal and Patriotic Society, he came to represent Canadian order as opposed to American anarchy — the “peace, order and good government” rather than the more hedonistic “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Had not Upper Canada been saved from the invader by appointed leaders who ruled autocratically? In America, the politicians became generals; in British North America, the opposite held true.

    This attitude — that the British way is preferable to the American; that certain sensitive positions are better filled by appointment than by election; that order imposed from above has advantages over grassroots democracy (for which read “licence” or “anarchy”); that a ruling elite often knows better than the body politic — flourished as a result of an invasion repelled. Out of it, shaped by an emerging nationalism and tempered by rebellion, grew that special form of a state paternalism that makes the Canadian way of life significantly different from the more individualistic American way.”

  3. ha ha very informative, must say. I have been in US for over 3 months now and in between this time had to talk to our counterparts in the Canada office. My first shock was when I was greeted by a French voice message, followed by a very ‘French-ised’ English. The accent sure is as different as the ones from Punjab and Tamil Nadu. And nice observation about the standard units. One of my colleague is a Canadian with a Canadian car – it is left hand drive like American but speedometer shows Km/Hr. Effects of British history and American proximity. But yes, heard its a beautiful coutry… planning to visit it sometime next year.

  4. Hey Gabriel:
    Welcome to my blog and thanks for the elaborate comment. You have definitely told me much more than what I learnt from some friends. I’ll try to get hold of the book about History of Canada. I feel it is very important to read history, especially if it is of the country you are planning to live in. Once again, many thanks and I appreciate it.

    Oemar:
    I agree. I love the accent:) Canada is indeed beautiful (even in snow)

  5. Once a student in NYC was asked, is Canada part of North America? He answered:no..)))
    Priyank, how can a smart guy as you not being read..))

  6. Back when I was in Detroit, I could see Canada from my living room, but unfortunately was never able to actually visit it. We always used to hear stories of folks driving to Canada and getting speeding tickets. It was because the speed limit signs were in km/hr, which the folks from the US thought to be miles/hr! :-)

  7. Hi Priyank,
    To add my 2 cents worth on the subject matter, I’ve been to Canada once and USA twice and as a visitor to the two countries, I have found no difference in their cultures, or accent for that matter, though I was led to believe that Canadians speak more crisply and clearly like the British. For e.g., I found a lot of similarity in the culture of Toronto and New York. Having said that, I am not quite sure I’d be able to identify a Mumbai-ite from a Pune-ite either:D But hey, I can say with certainty that I would identify a Kuwaiti from a non-Kuwaiti ;)

  8. Hans:
    Hahaha.. who was that student? you?? ;)

    Mahendra:
    Ah! You missed visiting the England/France of America :)

    Celine:
    Welcome to my blog. I am led to believe that working culture of Toronto and Newyork is quite similar, but I’ll know the differences better after spending more time here.

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